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Canterbury named for top of the table ITM Cup clash

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crfu.co.nz and James Mortimer     20 Sep 2013     Getty Images

. Canterbury Head Coach Scott Robertson has made five changes to the starting line-up that beat Otago last weekend.

Two players who returned from injury last week to start off the bench have this week made the starting fifteen – Corey Flynn at hooker and Johnny McNicholl on the left wing. That sees Ben Funnell and Milford Keresoma providing some very handy cover from the bench.

Two players have also been released from the All Blacks camp this week to rejoin the team. Matt Todd returns to openside flanker, and Colin Slade replaces Tom Taylor at fullback (with Taylor now called up to the All Black squad).

The final change is in the number eight jersey, with Luke Whitelock pulling it on this week and Jordan Taufua ready to make an impact off the bench if required.

Robertson says this promises to be their biggest challenge of the season yet: “Like us, Wellington haven’t dropped a game yet this season. Both teams will obviously be determined not to break their unbeaten run.

“We are expecting this game to be at a level of intensity you’d normally get in a final and we’re approaching it as such. It is also the beginning of our “storm” week though, with matches to follow on Wednesday night and the following Saturday, so our focus and energy have to be absolutely primed,” Robertson said.

Canterbury team to play Wellington: Colin Slade, Patrick Osborne, Adam Whitelock, Ryan Crotty, Johnny McNicholl, Tyler Bleyendaal, Will Heinz, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock (c), Matt Symons, Luke Katene, Nepo Laulala, Corey Flynn, Joe Moody. Reserves: Ben Funnell, Paea Fa'anunu, Joel Everson, Jordan Taufua, Andy Ellis, Rob Thompson, Milford Keresoma.